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W. M. Flinders Petrie. Scarabs and cylinders with names: illustrated by the Egyptian collection in University College, London (London, 1917)

View Scarabs and Cylinders PDF Online


24. The first four dynasties

25. The Vth dynasty

26. The VIth dynasty

27. The VIIth - IXth dynasties

28. Hardstone scarabs, Xth and XIth dynasties

29. The XIth dynasty

24. The first four dynasties

The question raised by assigning to a later origin all scarabs with names earlier than the xiith dynasty, can best be considered after reviewing the material which exists, and will therefore be discussed in the next chapter. Pl. viii. The scarabs with the word Ra' menus are obviously late, and whether they are intended to commemorate Mena is uncertain. The scarabs reading Heseptu mdot kheru are certainly not contemporary, as the signs are corrupt ; they may be modern attempts copied from the form in Lepsius, Todtenbuch, pl. 53. With Nebkara begin the scarabs which may be contemporary. The second and third here might perhaps be of Ra-neb-kau Khety of the ixth dynasty. The fourth is probably later, by the style.

The square plaque of Khufu (4-2-4) shows the first instance of the winged sun. That next appears over the figure of Unas at Elephantine. There is a sign among the pot-marks of the ist dynasty, which looks as if the winged sun was already designed (Royal Tombs, i, xlvii, 169, and perhaps 1, 483-485 ; R. T. ii, IVA, 104, etc.).

The cylinder seal (4-2-5) of the great pyramid, is one of the most interesting seals known. It is in perfect condition, carved in the brown basalt which was used largely for building in that reign. The basalt has slightly altered, as it does in the course of ages, and fine fissures vein the surface. These fissures are the absolute guarantee of antiquity, as they isolate portions of the signs, which could not now be cut without breaking up the stone. The cylinder was found at Gizeh, probably in the tomb of an official which was opened just before I bought it. The seal was apparently intended for sealing documents and produce belonging to the endowments of the great pyramid.

The piece of a large alabaster vase of Khufu (4-2-6) I bought at Koptos; it doubtless belonged to the furniture of the temple there. The plummet of hard limestone (4-2-7) I obtained at Gizeh; probably it was used by workmen of Khufu. Pl. ix. The scarabs of Khofra are commoner than those of Khufu. There are twenty-two known of Khufu, twenty-six of Khofra, but none that can be equally clearly attributed to Menkaura; those with the inscription Ra-men-a probably belonged mostly to the age of Menkara the vassal of Shabaka (25-3-18-22). Two Menkara scarabs at Aberdeen, and one in the British Museum, seem to be of the Old Kingdom by their simple, bold style. Now that we have evidence of Menkara and Menkheperra as vassals of Shabaka, the scarabs formerly supposed to be re-issues by Hotshepsut (Historical Scarabs, 936-953) may probably be assigned to these later kings. The plaque from Marathus with both names together is clearly of the Shabaka age (Historical Scarabs, 1951). The Zedefra scarab is probably a forgery; but condemned scarabs have so often been proved to be ancient by similar ones being discovered, that unless a scarab is of a well-known class of forgeries it should be left in suspense. The Ra'zed scarab appears to be early, and so may be of this reign. The Shepseskaf has the best and most naturalistic work on the back, far better than anything after the xviiith dynasty. The private scarab of Hetep'hers shows by the name that it must belong to the ivth or vth dynasty. It is the earliest private name-scarab known.

25. The Vth dynasty

In the vth dynasty the cylinders almost supersede the scarab. A systematic resemblance is seen between the falcon names and cartouches in this dynasty, Nefer-kho'u = Nefer-ra, Men-kho'u = Hormenkau, Zed-kho-u = Zed-ka-ra. Now a second name of Sahura is yet unknown, but as the falcon name is Neb-kho-u we might expect to find Neb-ra or Neb-khou-ra. Hence the scarab Neb-khou-ra is here assigned to Sahura. It is true that the name Sahura is treated as a throne name, by both the Sinai inscription and Manetho; but as no separate throne and personal-names had yet been started in Egypt, it might well be that at first Sahura was the sole name, and later he adopted Neb-khoTa as a throne name parallel to his falcon name.

The clay sealing placed after those of Sahura bears a Horus name which is yet unidentified, but by its style seems to be of this period. The scarab of Shepseskara is the first one known in this dynasty. That of Ne-user-ra An appears to be loyal by the title "son of Ra"; the large central disc to the Ra belongs to this age, as on the tablets of Sahura and An at Maghara. The cylinder of Zed-ka-ra is fixed by the Horus name; the cartouche looks more like Zedefra, and was so described by Wiedemann (Geschichie, i, 187) who saw it at Luqsor; after being lost for some years, I bought it in Cairo. The metal is a peculiar hard white alloy. The name on the chert ink-slab, 5-8-2, is highly incised on the base, the only part shown here; the whole slab is exquisitely cut and polished, with perfectly flat planes and sharp edges. The scarab of Zedkara with spirals cannot belong to Shabataka in the xxvth dynasty, as there are no spirals of any kind after Ramessu II, nor any spirals of this form after the xiith dynasty. The first two scarabs of Unas seem to be contemporary, by the style and inscriptions. The others may be also of this age.

26. The VIth dynasty

PI. X. Of Meryra Pepy there are many scarabs known, including a very fine amethyst scarab (Murch), on which the mer has the longer side uppermost as on Merenra here, a curious irregularity unlike later usage. The scarab of Merenra (6-4) is of dark blue pottery, identical in colour with glaze of the vith dynasty. The Horus Nefer-sa is known in a papyrus at Cairo; but, though early, the historical connection has not yet been found. This alabaster block of the king is part of some large object. Many alabaster vases and lids of this age are known, belonging to temple furniture dedicated by the kings, as of Teta and Neferkara here. A fine perfect vase in this collection, naming the sed feast of Pepy, is among the stone vases, and will be published with those.

A special feature of the reign of Pepy I is the number of large cylinders of officials. Three are figured here, and four others are in the British Museum. They all appear to have been made at one time as insignia of office, usually without the personal name of the official.

27. The VIIth - IXth dynasties

Reaching the viith dynasty we are in a period which was so obscure, that it is very unlikely that any attention would be subsequently given to re-issuing scarabs of this age. The name of Neferkara might refer to Pepy II, but the style—with central spot in ra—entirely forbids dating so late as the reign of Shabaka. Nekara, who appears in the Abydos list, here appears on another cartouche plaque, along with Nub-neb-ra, who is otherwise unknown, probably a vassal or suzerain. The cowroid reading Er-ka-nen-ra. is perhaps of the same king. The seal with a handle, of Tereru, belongs clearly to the successor of Ne-ka-ra; his throne name, Nefer-ka-ra, is given here by nefer, and ka arms raised by a figure. The signs ha and neb may be read "Lord of the north," or Delta. It is impossible to separate this name from Tereru of the viith dynasty, and the form of a seal with a handle also agrees with the button seals of that age; it therefore gives a valuable standard of the engraving and style of the time, for comparison with scarabs.

The large scarab of Seneferonkhra Pepy seems to rank beside the king Neferkara Pepysenb of the viith dynasty; and the wide-spread tail to the onkh is not seen in the xiith dynasty or later scarabs.  The name of Pepy as the great figure of the vith dynasty was copied in the viith; just as Amenemhot — the great name of the xiith dynasty — was copied in the xiiith. The important evidence of the drawn scarab of Pepy we shall notice later. The private name Pepe-nos-es appears on two scarabs, which have the deep indigo-blue glaze of this age.

Of the ixth dynasty there is one scarab here, with the mer turned long side up, as figured on the scarabs of Pepy I and Jlerenra. There is also, at Paris, another Merabra scarab, here drawn. It seems very unlikely that this obscure king should have been commemorated in any later period, when he is not in any of the monumental lists. Of Khety II, Neb-kau-ra, there is the fine jasper weight. On this his throne name omits the ra, giving only Neb-kau; this is like Tereru, above, being named Nefer-ka, vnthout the ra. Probably of the xth dynasty is the scarab of King Shenes (Brit. Mus.), as it bears the epithet or wish Uah onkh, which belongs to the xth and xith dynasties, and is not found after the xiith.

28. Hardstone scarabs, Xth and XIth dynasties

Pl. xi. — We now reach a class of small hardstone scarabs, of rather irregular work, which cannot be paralleled in the xiith dynasty or any later period. By several of these having the epithet Nefer ka uah it appears that they must belong to the ixth to xith dynasties; compare with this the Uah-ka princes of Antaiopolis. The title of the first (10 A), uortu, is usually found combined with "the prince's table" or "the capital city," and the latter was the higher title, held by great nobles. It cannot refer to a courier; and the clue seems to be given by the scope of another word for leg, seheq, which also means "to re-unite," "to assemble together." The word therefore which seems to agree best with this is "marshal." The "marshal of the dykes" here would have the duty of marshalling all the material at the inundation; the "marshal of the prince's table" would organize the court precedence; the "marshal of the city" would manage the public assemblies and processions, and therefore be of high rank.

The scarab 10 B has the title royal sealer, followed by a name, as the determinative shows. This appears to be "beloved of Merto"; "Mer" or "Merto" was the goddess of inundation at Oxyrhynkhos (Brugsch, Dict. Geog. 617, 1197, 1364). The confused writing of 10 D seems as if intended for re, mouth or speech, and possibly khetet by abbreviation for nekhtei; the hetep sign is partly worn away, but the tep below indicates it. The circular bead, with flat-domed back, 105, by the perfection of its spirals cannot be later than the early part of the xiith dynasty, and may well be of the xith. The lazuli scarab of the high priest Antef, 10 K, with equally fine spirals, is probably late xith. Likewise the next two, with names of Antef and Mentuemhot, by the hardness of the stone and bold work, are of the same age.

A very definite class are the scarabs with the epithet Ka ' nefer ' uah," the good ka is established," which was used much like maot-kheru, "justified," or uahcni onkh, "living again." The names found with this epithet, or prayer, are of the type before the xiith dynasty—Khety (ixth), Beba (viith), Athy (viith), Nebhat 'nefer 'ka (see Ra'nefer'ka, viith), Mentu'hetep (xith), Mer (vith); only one is distinctively as late as early xiith, Ameny. The hard stones mostly used in this class were not generally worked after the middle of the xiith dynasty; and the epithet is practically unknown on the great mass of steles which begin with the xiith dynasty. 10 N is of the very flat domed form which belongs to the xith and early xiith dynasties. For the use of Antef as a female name in 10 U there are other examples (Lieb. Dict. 146, 161).

29. The XIth dynasty

The kings' names are resumed in the xith dynasty, with Neb-taui-ra. The first, 11-5-1, with the crown, is clearly of the king. 11-5-3 and 4 are difficult in reading. Oryt was a place where Hathor was worshipped, probably Alyi, which was nearly opposite to Deshasheh. In the abbreviated style often found on scarabs, Oryt alone might be used for Nebt-oryt, or "She of Oryt." It is curious that two examples of this should be found, a cowroid, and a prism which is similarly inscribed on two sides.

The scarab 11 A is so obviously of the type and style of work of 11-7-1 following it, that it must be intended as a variant of Antef V. On reaching this king we should note the difficulty in the fashionable view of placing him in the xvith dynasty. Nothing in that period is at all comparable with the work of these scarabs—such hard-stone scarabs with such fine engraving are unknown from the middle of the xiith to well into the xviiith dynasty. To attribute them to the most degraded time under the Hyksos is like ascribing coins of Hadrian to the Byzantines. The details are dealt with more fully below. One reason for the later date, on which the main stress has been laid in England, is the reference to an enemy of Antef being received at Koptos. But a similar state of things is shown on the stele of Zara, who in the xith dynasty under Uah-onkh Antef "fought with the house of Khety in the domain of Thinis" (Qurneh, 17). The Antef princes were continually at war with northern neighbours, and an enemy being at Koptos does not prove any connection with the Hyksos, and may just as well have been in the xith dynasty.

The name of Nub-seshesht -ra is allied to those of two Antef kings, Seshesh-her -her -maot -ra and Seshesh-up-maot -ra. The work of his scarab is of the same group as those of Antef V. The work of the scarab of Dadames resembles that of Antef V in 11-7-3. Mentuemsaf has the fine circular spiral which is not seen in royal scarabs of fixed date after Senusert I (12-2-1), or in a poorer form under Senusert II (12-4-2). The scarab of Neb-hapt-ra Mentu hetep has a hght blue glaze like that of the early xiith dynasty (12-2-11); the colour, the work, and the sign all forbid attributing it to a supposititious name, Neb-ab-ra, of late date. The scarab of Sonkhkara is of very delicate, refined work, like that of Amenemhot I (12-1-4). These are not like the style of any later period.

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